Film Review: ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

Year:  2013 / 98 minutes

Starring:  Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch

Directed by:  John Moore / Written by:  Skip Woods

What’s it about?

John McClane sets off for Russia when his estranged son is arrested whilst working undercover for the CIA.  It isn’t long until father and son are fighting for their lives as they become embroiled in a nuclear heist plot…

In review

I originally intended to see A Good Day to Die Hard on its theatrical release earlier this year but with funds low and the flurry of negative opinion surrounding the film I resisted, opting to wait for the rental instead.  It took a bit of time but I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it…and needn’t have bothered.

It’s a crushing disappointment.  I’ve loved the first Die Hard for more years than I care to remember – easily one of my all-time favourites (and best Christmas film EVER?), Die Hard 2 was a decent follow up, third entry Die Hard With a Vengeance I’ve never really taken to (but it certainly had its moments and saw the directorial return of John McTiernan) and Die Hard 4.0 (released overseas as Live Free or Die Hard) I found to be enjoyable and good fun.

So here we have the fifth Die Hard film – A Good Day to Die Hard.  It really is a sad state of affairs, I honestly wondered when it was announced if there was still life left in the franchise and felt that Die Hard 4.0 (2007) was a suitable place to wrap things up.  There’s just nothing I can say about this film that redeems it, the story is weak and largely forgettable (something to do with the retrieval of a file to implicate a corrupt Russian official, with events leading to a nuclear heist at Chernobyl) in fact I just didn’t really care about it in any way.  The dysfunctional relationship between John McClane (Willis) and daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who cameos in this film) was a believable and likeable element of DH4.0 and gave it an emotional core amongst all the incredible (and at times ludicrous) action set-pieces but AGTDH lacks any semblance of this.  The increasingly dour Bruce Willis seems bored here, merely present to collect an easy (and no doubt hefty) paycheque with none of the chemistry present between Willis and Winstead felt between John and son Jack (Courtney).  To be fair Courtney does try and there are clear attempts to make the audience care – mostly through some poorly delivered and cringe inducing humour, but ultimately there’s just no heart in it.  Perhaps it’s Willis’s apparent lack of interest or failings on the part of director John Moore (who previously helmed video game adaptation Max Payne and the remake of The Omen), or a combination of both, but AGTDH just plods along without offering any real incentive to coax any lasting interest from the viewer.

Sebastian Koch makes what he can of the material as Komarov, a government whistle-blower who is the key to obtaining evidence to convict corrupt Russian official, Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov).  In terms of villainy, it’s all standard fare with Yulia Snigir as the sexy femme fatale, Irina and Rasha Bukvic as Alik – the clichéd Russian heavy.  Unfortunately there’s no-one anywhere near as memorable as Alan Rickman to stand out.

This really could be any cheap by-the-numbers action film (you could literally slap any title on it), the action scenes (amongst them car chases, gun fights and helicopter attacks) are loud, quick and to be honest…nauseous.  I’m partial to a good mindless action film and one of the hallmarks of the Die Hard series is its exciting and elaborate action but the said sequences are all over the show here, the camera constantly shaking and shifting focus to the point where you might feel you’re watching The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield (which is obviously fine for those types of films) and not really know what’s going on or even make decent use of the Russian backdrop.

So, after 98 minutes I found myself yearning to return to the original, infinitely superior, Die Hard and can only recommend that you do the same.

The bottom line:  It’s a shame but A Good Day to Die Hard is simply terrible and a far cry from the classic original.

A Good Day to Die Hard is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Like father, like son? There's not much to hold your interest in 'A Good Day to Die Hard'...

Like father, like son? There’s not much to hold your interest in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’…

4 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’

  1. I guess we can blame the director for this one as Max Payne was terrible. What a shame as I loved the original Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengence.

    • You’re probably right, I haven’t seen ‘Max Payne’ but heard it was pretty bad. They really should have left the franchise at number 4, it pains me to think that there’s a sixth ‘Die Hard’ on the cards – but let’s see who ends up directing it I suppose (and maybe Bruce Willis might be in a better mood?)!

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. Just curious: if it had starred Liam Neeson or Daniel Craig and was called ‘Fallout’ or some such, but was in now way connected to Die Hard, would you have the same feelings?

    I get your criticisms, I’m just wondering if you hate the film in general, hate how it represents the franchise, or both.

    It really is a great review in either case. : D

    • Thanks very much! I would say it’s more the latter, I just felt it was a poor addition to the franchise and had hope for better especially since Die Hard 4 had taken me by surprise – appreciate your thoughts as always!

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